April 29, 2005

Umm...

Yeah, okay, immature and all that. But really... is Rumsfeld checking out Spidey's junk?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:38 AM

April 28, 2005

Frist to the story

If you've got any interest at all in the now days-long "filibuster" protest being held outside the Frist Center at Princeton University, you should be checking out the ever-updating blog of Campus Progress' own Asheesh Siddique, who's blogging live from the action.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:33 AM

April 27, 2005

Flame shields up

Okay, I'm bracing myself for the onslaught I'm going to recieve on this one. But here it goes: I really don't get what the big friggin' deal is with Firefly.

I watched a few episodes of the show when they ran them on Fox, and I just finished watching the trailer for the new movie that's coming out that apparently every single living human being on the internet equates to the resurrection of Christ, and I'm dumbfounded.

To start right off the bat, imagining the series never existed, and this was a standalone trailer for a movie, then frankly, who gives a damn. It looked like, and dialouge-wise, sounded like, every single generic flashy sci-fi action wannabe film trailer I've seen in the last ten years. Smarmy ship pilot- check. Small, frail child-figure who wow, what a suprise, she actually kicks butt!- check. Climactic line finished with jump cut to big explosion- check. As for the theme in general- sci-fi spaceship action with cowboy/Western tones- umm, I liked that the first time when it was called twenty percent of every anime series made in the last decade. Go rent any DVD of Cowboy BeBop or Trigun and tell me how breathtakingly original "Joss Whedon's vision of the future" [handjob motion] is.

As for the series, it's not that it was bad. But I just never saw why of all the shows getting cancelled prematurely to cause worldwide mourning, this was the one. My So-Called Life. Now there was a tragedy. The almost-cancellation of The Venture Bros.- another example of a heartbreaker first-season killing. Invader ZIM. Talk about originality and creativity shattered by an unfeeling marketing and programming department.

I don't have any particular dislike for Firefly, but I just don't get how people fawned over the show, save of course for the obvious- that people somehow think anything Joss Whedon creates is pure, anadulterated gold. I'm not trying to attack Whedon here- he does great work and I'm sure he's a great guy, and I'm certainly not trying to establish myself as one of the anti-Whedon-for-the-hell-of-it crowd. But I understand why Firefly was cancelled- for its cost, it really didn't maintain my interest. And neither did the trailer for this movie. I'm sure I can't be the only one, can I?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:46 AM

Naughty bits

Greg interprets the latest news on Jeff Gannon/Guckert's ridiculously frequent visits to the White House and makes an educated guess which, no pun intended, pretty much nails it:

Checking in and not checking out with the security desk to me sounds like the behavior of somebody meeting their boyfriend at work and riding home with them through the employee parking lot. I'm sure there are plenty of other plausible explanations, but that's the one that makes the most sense to me.

I don't buy the blackmail scenario, though. If Jeff Gannon was stupid enough to try to blackmail the Karl Rove-run White House, he would have had his ass kicked long before we'd ever heard of the guy. I'm thinking this is a classic case of nepotism. A high-level Administration staffer has a "friend" who needs a favor so Ari and Karl, who always welcome extra friendly faces in the press room, pull some strings and hook the guy up. Boyfriend has a new career, the press secretary has a go-to guy if the questions get tough, and nobody notices or cares.

That said, while I initially thought Gannon's presence was purely political, I no longer think that explains how he got there. If JimmyJeff's only business in the White House was to spread GOP talking points, there wouldn't be any unusual activity on the Secret Service logs. More importantly, however, is the fact that he's an idiot. Having seen this guy interviewed a number of times by now, I'm sure a political genius like Karl Rove could find a more competent shill than this guy. Not only is Gannon dumb enough to think he can get away with plagiarizing Republican press releases, but he actually defends the practice. If the White House needed to recruit an Administration-friendly reporter, they could find somebody a lot less retarded than this guy (like Armstrong Williams or Maggie Gallagher).

Beltway gossip in no way my strong suit, Ocham's Razor is glaring on this issue. What suprises me is the relative state of denial most conservatives and many in the media have about the liklihood of a simplistic, obvious scenario: Guckert was banging someone in the White House Press Office.

The previous administration's scandal was so glaring because the staffer in question caught with his pants down was the President himself. But as far back as Thomas Jefferson, there's constant evidence of sexual chicanery in the offices of government. In other words, the media forces claiming that Guckert sleeping his way into the press pool is a fantastic, left-wing loony theory are ignoring the statistical point that this is, in fact, the most historically likely scenario.

Obviously, though, it's not so much a "oh, this always happens" story as to imply it's not worth investigating: it is. Clearly, pay-to-play, or, to be blunt, fuck-to-play from a "journalist" for exclusive White House access isn't just a violation of journalistic ethics, but common governmental security. Combine that with evidence strong enough for open court that Guckert is a male prostitute, and the issue of ethics and security are magnified to an incredible degree.

Someone in a position of authority in a large executive office developed an attachment to the person he was paying for sex. He ended up offering that person, an untrained, uncredited prostitute faking a legitimate career, extraordinary priviledges through their own job's authority to keep their new fuck-buddy happy and, well, fucking them. When you read that a few times, you suddenly realize that's far from original, and far from unprecedented. So let's get the whole "you crazy liberals and your theories" nonsense out of the way, accept the facts of what happened, and start addressing the real issue: that this is only one example of the White House's dangerous and un-democratic abuse of the Press Office for an overly partisan agenda.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:51 AM

April 26, 2005

"Are you saying 'boo' or 'Boourns'?"

Reader Jess Gordon sent me this one, and I pretty much have to agree with him: that's one whopping helping-o-ass-cover right there, Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME Minister Tony Blair's spin doctors have mounted a novel defence after schoolchildren appeared to boo him on a pre-election visit, explaining they were actually chanting "boom", an arcane term of approval in British youth slang.

As he unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of school in south London, Mr Blair was welcomed by hundreds of pupils loudly applauding - but also, to the embarrassment of aides, an audible minority which seemed to boo.
Afterwards, anxious officials from Mr Blair's Labour Party, desperate to avoid a scandal just nine days before the May 5 general election, steered reporters towards one group of children at the Lilian Baylis Technology School.

The pupils explained that they were in fact chanting "boom", a slang term roughly equivalent to "hooray" which is popular among young black Britons, of whom the school has a sizeable population.

Oh, those silly little black people. What will they do next?

Geez. While you're at it, why not tell them they're all flashing you the peace sign backwards?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:47 PM
Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:54 PM

Friedman

Cower before the Moustache of Understanding.

(More here)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:12 AM

April 25, 2005

Newest comic - "Virginian for 'fore'"

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:52 AM

Belated mailbag

Ugh. A long week, and I'm only now getting to e-mails some of you sent me a week ago. I just did the count and realized that between work, this site, gMail, and other things I have about nine active e-mail addresses. And this is someone who only got a cell phone a year ago. But I digress.

I got a lot of responses to my mention of the WWE's diva application policy, but I sincerely doubt anyone has a better perspective on the issue ot offer than reader Julian:

I found your post "The Times They Are A-Changin" quite interestly. As an FTM (female-to-male) trans activist, I think I might have a few (bad) reasons why the WWE might specify "born a woman". Due to employment discrimination and the high costs of medical treatment for hormones and surgeries - none of which are covered by insurance, much of which is obtained on the black market due to a dearth of medical professionals supportive of transgender care - many trans folk are in sex work such as prostitution and stripping, disproportionate to our overall numbers in society. The WWE might have hired trans MTF (male-to-female) strippers in the past and been worried what their inevitably homophobic audiences might think.

Also, there's a common misperception that trans people are "deceptive" - witness the arguments that MTF Gwen Arujo was murdered because the men she'd had sex with were horrified that she was "really" a man. It's an especially strong and violent form of homophobia, made worse because we are "hidden" as opposed to supposedly flaming gay men. I'm sure the WWE audience would feel horrified and outraged should a trans woman have won "Diva."

On the other hand, the WWE's qualifications in their contest is perversely a sign of how far trans people have already come. We used to be invisible. People recognized drag queens, but they were just frilly gay men. (Nobody mentioned, and still nobody mentions, drag kinds by and large.) Cross-dressers were just sick straight guys with mommy issues. But transgender people, in all our variety and legitimacy, are slowly being recognized. The fact that the WWE now discriminates against us means we're gaining visibility - and with visibility, we will gain respect.

I felt like a lot of people disagreed with my defense of ephedra. I still support its availability, but in the interest of fairness and acknowledgement of its dangers I'll print this useful e-mail from reader Jeffery C.:

After reading your post about ephedra, I think you've left out something. Ephedra works because its a chemical precursor to speed, but its the side effects that can really be worrisome. Along with all the physiological effects that go along with it (increased heart rate, etc.), there is also the behavioral aspects. Because ones metabolism is constantly running very high, various normal endorphins in the brain are used up and ephedra users commonly get irritable and angry.

Having used it for a while in college, my roommates and I were subject to long periods of anger, resentment, and depression. We liked to break things because we were so angry, things like our land line phone and television. And we put numerous holes in the wall. We didn't know why we did thus, just that we were angry. And that we didn't like anyone else. Even each other.

We finally stopped using the stuff when our lease ran out and we all moved into other apartments. The change wasn't immediate, but after a while, I realized that for some reason I just didn't feel like I needed to take out my aggressions on inanimate objects anymore. Of course, I also noticed the weight gain, but I genuinely liked not being angry at the world and everyone in it anymore, so it was something I could live with.

I think the behavioral aspects were also part of the reason such products were taken off shelves, and I think that if you're going to be advocating that it should be legal and that people are free to use it, you should also list those aspects. Ultimately the choice to take such products is left up to the potential buyer, and they might change their mind if given this information.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:20 AM

April 24, 2005

That's a good point, Mr. Snuggles. More tea?

Bob Novak didn't write an article this week. Instead, a machine randomly generated one and an editor didn't bother to check it:

"Prominent Democrats are advising Sen. Hillary Clinton that, if she runs for president in 2008 as expected, she should avoid the Iowa caucuses as the first competition for the Democratic nomination," Robert Novak reports.

"That advice is based on the belief that any Democrat must run well to the left to win the Iowa caucuses. Many Democrats believe Sen. John Kerry's 2004 victory in Iowa, while clinching the nomination, hurt his chances for the general election."

Novak-column-bot just belched out a series of statements that directly contradict, you know, history. The candidate that ran the most to the left in Iowa was Howard Dean- he came in third. The candidate that skipped Iowa- Wesley Clark- won a single state a month into the primaries.

But what sells the piece for me is the final conclusion Novak reaches: "Many Democrats believe Sen. John Kerry's 2004 victory in Iowa, while clinching the nomination, hurt his chances for the general election."

According to Novak, Kerry's problem was that he won Iowa. You see, becoming the candidate hurt his chances of winning in 2004. Hillary can avoid that problem by not winning any primaries. It's so simple; why didn't anyone see it before?

He's having a tea party. That's the only explanation for this. Robert Novak suffered a severe cerebral hemmorage, and is currently sitting at a PlaySkool table with some stuffed animals he refers to as "prominent Democrats." There's no other acceptable excuse.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:31 AM